New domestic violence Bill closer
NATIONAL SCHEME FOR RESTRAINING ORDERS CLOSER
THOUSANDS of cases of family violence are in the spotlight as a new Domestic Violence Bill moves one step closer to becoming law.
The Domestic Violence Orders (National Recognition) Bill has just passed the Legislative Assembly and will enable WA to participate in a national scheme to recognise domestic violence restraining orders across the country, no matter what state or territory they have been taken out in.
Police figures show that from 2015-16, more than 53,000 cases of domestic violence were reported in WA, and White Ribbon statistics estimate that one woman is killed every week by a current or former partner.
White Ribbon also estimates that one in four children are exposed to domestic violence.
State MP Tony Buti has been a long-time advocate on the issue, and said it’s time for WA to come to the party for the new national recognition scheme.
“Women and children who have been subjected to domestic violence are traumatised,” he said. “A national recognition scheme avoids re-traumatising the situation, and reduces the ability for a perpetrator to know the whereabouts of the victim.”
Amanda Paton, clinical psychologist and director of therapeutic services at the George Jones Child Advocacy Centre, said while legislation should go further, the new Bill was a step in the right direction.
“We’ve had cases where this type of scheme would work, [where someone has] had restraining orders in other states or territories, come over to WA and they’ve not held, or they thought the restraining order applied when it didn’t,” she said.
“A lot of families that we’ve worked with are a bit disheartened by the system.
“If they’ve found out they have to apply all over again, it’s almost like being re-traumatised, because you have to go through it all over again. For a lot of families, it’s a big enough step to actually take to acknowledge, yes my partner is hurting us, he’s hurting me, he’s hurting the family.”
The George Jones Child Advocacy Centre is run by Parkerville Children and Youth Care, and services families facing domestic violence all through the south-east metro corridor.
Ms Paton said one of the biggest things people can do to combat family violence is acknowledge what’s going on.
“I think a lot of people... want to stick their heads in the sand, they want to think it happens over there, that it couldn’t possibly be happening in their neighbourhood.
“Even the most affluent, highprofile and pretty neighbourhoods you can find, they all have child abuse and family violence lurking behind the scenes.
“You can’t change it until you acknowledge it’s an issue we all need to deal with,” she said.
The State Government is planning a new metropolitan refuge and new regional refuge, along with one-stop hubs for women to seek help when facing family violence.